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Posts Tagged ‘Raoul Nordling’

 

Neils Arestrup and Andre Dusollier...arguing for the future of Paris

Neils Arestrup and Andre Dusollier…arguing for the future of Paris

“DIPLOMACY” My rating: B

82 minutes | No MPAA rating

In August of 1944, with Allied troops on the outskirts of the city and the Resistance amping up its activities, the Germans were preparing to abandon Paris — and leave behind a smoking ruin.

Bitter over the pounding German cities were taking, Hitler had ordered the destruction of most of Paris’ famed monuments — from the General Assembly to the Eiffel Tower to the train stations and museums.  Explosive charges placed along the Seine would lead to massive flooding. A million or more people could become fatalities.

Clearly, Der Fuehrer’s plan was not implemented. But it was a close call.

The circumstances surrounding the Nazi retreat from Paris were examined in  “Is Paris Burning?” That 1966 release was one of those cast-of-thousands Hollywood efforts featuring big stars from a half-dozen countries. Behind the camera was the great French director Rene Clair.

But for a far more intimate — if less factual — retelling, check out “Diplomacy” from director Volker Schlondorff (“The Tin Drum,” “The Handmaid’s Tale”).

Basically a two-character production (it was adapted from Cyril Gely’s stage play), this terrifically-written and performed drama centers on two real-life figures.

General von Choltitz (Niels Arestrup) is the Nazi military governor of Paris. A weary but dedicated soldier, he has followed orders he finds morally repugnant (like the mass slaughter of Soviet Jews). Now he has overseen the mining of the French capital with tons of explosives. All that’s necessary to get the ball rolling is his order.

Enter Raoul Norlding (Andre Dussollier), the Swedish ambassador to France. Nordling appears as if by magic in von Choltitz’s private office in the Meurice Hotel.  He admits that he gained entrance through a secret passageway once used by Napoleon III to visit his mistress.  In fact, in recent weeks Nordling from hiding has eavesdropped on von Choltiz’s planning.

(For the record, the secret passageway and this particular confrontation between the Swede and the German is pure fiction.)

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